Textile and Fashion Arts

The first item acquired for the Museum’s collection of textile and fashion arts was an Irish embroidery, purchased in 1888. Today, the collection comprises approximately 7,000 items and represents virtually all of the world’s traditions in fabric. Major collecting in this area began in 1906, with the purchase of 100 Chinese textiles and costumes.

Among the objects from Asia are textiles and costumes from China; kimonos and Buddhist robes and furnishings from Japan; Kashmir shawls; ceremonial hangings from India and a large group of textiles from Indonesia. West and Central Asian holdings include: rugs and kilims from Iran, Ottoman embroideries from Turkey, and costumes and ceremonial textiles from Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. In 1996, the late Colonel Jeff W. Boucher’s collection of 65 Baluchi rugs and weavings was donated to the Museum. Later, this collection was augmented by eleven pieces, making it the largest and most comprehensive in the United States. The IMA also houses a significant African textile arts collection, with a particular concentration in rugs, costumes and embroideries from Morocco.

European holdings feature silks from the late 16th to 19th centuries, a lace collection spanning 500 years and a large group of 19th century paisley shawls woven in England. Also represented, are European fashions dating from the late 18th to the 20th centuries, as well as couture by prominent designers such as Dior, Balenciaga, Chanel, Gaultier and Versace.

The North American textile collection features noteworthy Indiana quilts and coverlets, as well as fashions by designers Norman Norell, Bill Blass, and Halston, and the legendary Rudi Gernreich. Central American holdings include Guatemalan textiles and a significant collection of about 360 Panamanian Molas.